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Architecture and Fine Arts 

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LYRASIS IVIembers and Sloan Foundation 

the rise of cubism 


daniel-henry kahnweller 


Translated by Henry Aronson 
The Documents of Modern Art: Director: Robert Motherwell 

Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler : The Rise 

of Cubism 

Wittenborn, Schultz, Inc., 

New York 22, N.Y. 


Publishers' Note: AUIEDAjjig 

The publishers and the director of the series wish to express their 

gratitude and indebtedness for aid and advice 

to the author, copyright holder of the original edition, 

to the individuals and institutions mendoned in the list of illustrations, and 

to John Rewald, William S. Lieberman, Curt Valentin, and Bernard Karpel. 

This is the first translation into any language of the original German text, written 

in 191 5 and published under the title "Der Weg zum Kubismus" by Daniel Henry 

(Munich, Delphin-Verlag, 1920). 

Copyright, 1949, by Wittenborn, Schultz, Inc. 

All rights reserved under international and Pan-American copyright conventions. 

Published by Wittenborn, Schultz, Inc., 38 East 57th Street, New York 22, N.Y. 


page iv Publisher's Note 

vi Preliminary Notice by Robert Motherwell 

via List of Illustrations 

ix Writings by Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler 

I The Rise of Cubism: i. The Essence of the New Painting. Lyricism of Form. 

The Conflict between Representation and Structure 

3 2. The Forerunners: Cezanne and Derain 

5 3. Cubism, the First Stage: The Problem of Form. Picasso 

and Braque 

9 4. Cubism, the Second Stage: The Piercing of the Closed 

Form. The Problem of Color. Categories of Vision. 
Picasso and Braque Working Together 

17 5. The Picture as a Productive End in Itself. Leger 

21 6. New Possibilities: Representation of Movement 


"■■ if- 

Preliminary Notice : 

Cubism began as an analysis, of the nature oj the aesthetic. The present little boo\ is an 
account of the cubists' experiments by a man who was their friend and advocate, as well as 
a dealer in their wor\s, a man who has reflected on their achievement all his life. Kahn- 
■weiler formulates their problem in the beginning of this boo\ in the sentence that reads, 
'representation and structure conflict.' Written as early as 1915, this boot{ is the story of the 
solution that they worked toward; tvhen it came to be seen, it broke the bacl{, if only tem- 
porarily, of centuries of naturalistic representation. Since then the struggle to be free from 
nature has passed into other hands, and will pass in turn to still others — as long as modern 
society remains what it is, and man's insight into it and himself increases, the distance be- 
tween the objects in the tvorld and an enlightened mind will lengthen. In accord with its 
analytical intent, cubism started inamood of objectivity. From this derives its famous 'purity,' 
from its indifference to the demands of the T before an objective problem. This morality 
has been inherited by many abstract artists and architects; it is indirect opposition to ex- 
pressionism, which asserts the dominance of the T above everything. Part of the beauty in- 
herent in the cubist enterprise lies in that for a time their minds were questioning and open 
about the forms of painting, though they scarcely transformed at all its subject-matter. 
Doubtless they seized upon Cezanne too quickly, but they were eager to act, and he pro- 
vided one of the few precedents for a reconsideration of modern painting. They also listened 
to poets tvho had been injluenced by Mallarme and the syMlbol^U, notably Guillaume Apol- 
linaire; they tal\ed, probably in a purely intuitive tvay, of modern science; and all the time 


in their studios they were struggling with the absolutes of painting. But from their free 
bohemian life they had already rid their minds of history, middle-class society, religion. Es- 
sential steps. Nevertheless the cubists' painting world was filled with objects — nudes, trees, 
houses, still life. Sometime in igog or igio Picass o toot{ 't he great ttep ,' as Kahnweiler puts 
it, and pierced the 'sl{in' of oibjects . reducing them and the world in which they exist ed to 
what we tvould notv call subjective process. With this step cubism snapped traditional 
naturalism. Wording tuith great intelligence, stubbornness and objectivity , they stumbled 
over the leading insight of the 20th century,^ all thought and feeling is relative to man, he 
does not reflect the tvorld but invents it, Man is his own invention; every artist's problem is 
to invent himself. How stupid from this point of view to pass one's time copying nature or 
history. And tvhat an invention is Mozart! T't^tgf' nn^lyrlc ^t.// „invl^ nf gr^nt nhj^rtitiity 
Bra^ue_and Picasso ivere led directly to the subjective — / am speakjng of the brief period 
when their insight did not waver — to the problem of inventing themselves. It is in a much 
deeper sense than Manolo guessed luhen he made his crude jo\e that Picasso's family would 
not have recognized him at the Barcelona station if he had descended as a cubist portrait. 
Cubism invented Picasso as much as he invented cubism fit r. evealed himself t o himself, as 
painting does to every true painter , of course it made him unintelligible to others\ln loo\ing 
bac\ now, one is not certain how completely the cubists possessed their insight. It is shoc\- 
ing to read in this boo\ of their fears of being unintelligible, of their confusing the sudden ap- 
pearance of their subjectivity with the appearances of the external world, as though one 
would lool{ like the other; it is shocking too that they were afraid that the tvork^ might be 
merely decorative — a mistaken image Kahnweiler still has of Mondrian and other non- 
figurative painters. But we must remember in tvhat a sea of confusions everyone begins, 
even genius, and for that matter often ends; everyone's life has to be spent in transcending 
his initial inheritances. In the sense that he has been chosen in modern times by the artist as 
his special enemy, a middle-class person is one ivho is what he has learned from conventions. •>*' 
Around igio-12, in cubism's highest flights, tvhat is stri/^mg is not the material structure . 
that Kahniveiler and most abstract artists like to speak "/■ ^"' a sen sitwe c'aUigraphy tha t/ 
s weeps up internal an d extern alworlds into a oneness in which reality consists not oj_of- 
posing_ejs£iices_oj jnafter_ and spirit, representation and ^tructttrcr but- tyf relation f, jprocess. 
During these years cubism approached ecstasy. Presently it lost its intuition of the mysterious, 
and they returned to Western construction , like carpenters or masons. Corot, Courbet and the 
impressionists made the subject-matter of modern art secular. The cubists accepted from 
them landscape and still life, and from the academic tradition the nude. These subjects the 
cubists mildly transformed into their oivn intimate objects, bare rooms in place of the out- 
doors, glasses, playing cards, labels, newspapers, musical instruments in place of fruit, and, 
one supposes, their own girls in place of the model in a public studio. But the intrinsi c con-_ 
flict betiveen subjettivity andthe objectjjolthe tiiprld, bettveen structure and representation, 
as Kahnweiler puts it, led them slowly to abandon natural appearances as much as they 
could in the interes^ts~-&f axt; this process constituted their dramatic conflict, which they 
resolved long enough to liberate everyone after them, and then abandoned , for they re- 
fttsed to give up their studio subjects. Tender an d lyricaL . perhaps for the moment unable 
to stand expressionist distortion, the cubists came to invent a new. sign language with which 
to refer to their familiar objects in the studio, signs tvhose meaning was arbitrary, invented 


and by definition, lil{e other symbolic structures: words or relational logic or the language 
of deaf-mutes. Cubism was filled u'ith the optimistic desire to be modern that Apollinaire 
expressed; but when cubism returned later to its pleasure-giving objects, it became filled with 
nostalgia, with a sense of their certain decay. When the cubists painted still life they may 
have intended, as one says in French, nature morte. . . . / say these things as all of us artists 
lit^e to speal(^, not as history, but as evocative of what I have seen and guessed; nothing of 
interest can be spol^en of save by indirection. This was just cubism's insight. For several 
years the cubists painted as if no truth is true that is not subtle. 

Robert Motherwell, New Yor\, February 22, ig^g 

List of Illustrations : 

(Dimensions given in inches, height precedes width) 

Frontispiece Picasso, Portrait of Kahnweiler. 1910, oil, 39'/4 by 28%, collection Mrs. 
Charles B. Goodspeed, Chicago. 
Pagejri Picasso, Etching. 1914. 

2 Picasso, Nude. 1910, pen and ink drawing, coll. unknown. 
20 Picasso, Two Nudes. 1906, oil, 59% by 36%, private collection, London. 

23 Picasso, Les Demoiselles d' Avignon. 1907, oil, 96 by 92, Museum of Modern 
Art, New York, acquired through the Lillie P. Bliss Bequest. 

24 Braque, Nude. 1908, oil, 55% by 40, coUectien Mme Marie Cuttoli, Paris. 

24 Picasso, Two Nudes {Friendship). 1908, oil, 60 by 40, Museum of Modern 
Western Art, Moscow. 

25 Picasso, Oil-Mill, Horta. 1909, oil, 15 by 18, private collection, Paris. 

25 Braque, Road near Estaque. 1908, oil, 23% by 19%, Museum of Modern Art, 
New York. 

26 Picasso, Woman with Mandolin. 1909, oil, 25 by 21, Museum of Modern 
Western Art, Moscow. 

26 Picasso, Woman with Mandolin (Fanny Tellier). 1910, oil, 39'/2 by 29, col- 
lection Roland Penrose, London. 

27 Braque, Woman tvith Mandolin. 1910-11, oil, 36 by 28'/2, collection Walter 
P. Chrysler, Jr., Warrentown, Virginia. 

28 Braque, The Portuguese Guitar Player. 1911, oil, 46V4 by 28%, private col- 
lection, Paris. 

■ 29 Picasso, Guitar. 1912, construction in colored papers, 9'/2 inches high, owned 
by the artist. 

30 Braque, The Clarinet. 1913, pasted paper, facsimile wood grain and crayon 
drawing, 37 by 47, collection Amedee Ozenfant, New York. 

30 Picasso, Man tvith a Violin. 1913, pasted paper and charcoal drawing, 48% 
by i8'/8, collection Roland Penrose, London. 


30 Braque, The Concert. 1913, pasted paper, facsimile wood grain and charcoal 
drawing, 36 by 46 '/2, collection Pablo Picasso, Paris. 

31 Picasso, Glass, Pipe, Playing Card. 1914, painted construction in wood, I'iVi 
inches diameter, owned by the artist. 

32 Picasso, Still Life. 1912-13, oil and pasted paper on canvas, 36'/4 by 25V2) col- 
lection Walter C. Arensberg, Hollywood. 

32 Braque, Oval Still Life. 1914, oil, 36% by 25%, Museum of Modern Art, New 
York, gift of the Advisory Committee. 

33 Leger, Two Pipe Smokers. 191 1, oil, 51 by 38, former collection Georges 
Bernheim, Paris. 

33 Leger, Nudes in the Forest. 1909-10, oil, 96 by 132, collection KroUer-Miiller 
Foundation, Otterloo, Holland. 

34 Leger, Smoke over Roofs. 1913, gouache, 25'/4 by igVi, Buchholz Gallery, 
New York. 

35 Leger, The Card Party. 1916-17, oil, private collection. 

Writings by Daniel-Henry Kahnweiler 

Compiled by Bernard Karpet, Librarian, Museum of Modern Art, New Yor\ 

1. Der Kubismus. Die Weissen Blatter (Zurich-Leipzig) v.3, no.9, p.209-222 Sept. 1916. 

2. Die Schweizer Volksmalerei im XIX. Jahrhundert. Das Kunstblatt {Berlin) v. 2, no.7, 

p.223-225 July 1918. 

3. Vom Sehen und vom Bilden. Die Weissen Blatter (Zurich-Leipzig) v.6, no.7, P-3^5~322 

July 1919. 

4. Andre Derain. Das Kunstblatt (Berlin) v.3,, p.289-304 Oct. 1919. 

5. Expressionismus. Das Kunstblatt (Berlin) v.3, no.ii, p.351 Nov. 1919. 

6. Merzmalerei. Das Kunstblatt (Berlin) v.3, no. 11, p.351 Nov. 1919. 

7. Das Wesen der Bildhauerei. Feuer (Weimar) v.i, no.2-3, p. 145-156 Nov .-Dec. 1919. 

8. Der Weg zum Kubismus. 55p. plus 36 plates Miinchen, Delphin-Verlag, 1920. 

Issued in translation as: The rise of cubism, Neu> Yorl{, i()4g. 

9. Maurice de Vlaminck. i6p. plus 32 plates Leipzig, Klinkhardt & Biermann, 1920. 

( Junge Kunst. Bd. 1 1 ) . 

10. Andre Derain. i6p. plus 32 plates Leipzig, Klinkhardt & Biermann, 1920. (Junge Kunst. 


Also published in Dutch translation by Collection N.K., .imsterdam, 1924. Originally 

issued in Das Kun'stblatt v.^, igig, and in Jahrbuch der Jungen Kunst v.i, P.9S-95 


11. \\fcT\isiaXX.en. Die Freude (Oberfran^en) v.i, p.153-154 1920. 

12. Absichten des Kubismus. Das Kunstblatt (Berlin) v.4, no.2, p.6i Feb. 1920. 

13. Die Grenzen der Kunstgeschichte. Monatshefte fiir Kunstwissenschaft (Leipzig) v. 13, 

part I, p.91-97 Apr. 1920. 

14. Andre Derain. Der Cicerone (Leipzig) v.12, no. 8, p-3i5-3i7 Apr. 1920. 


15. Der Purismus. Der Cicerone {Leipzig) v. 12, no.p, p.364 May 1920. 

Also published in Jahrbuch der Jungen Kunst, v.i, p.i^<) 1^20. 

16. Fernand Leger. Der Cicerone (Leipzig) v. 12, no.19, p.699-702 Oct. 1920. 

Also published in Jahrbuch der Jungen Kunst, p.^oi—^o^ 1^20. 
i6a. Ingres: Ideen und Maximen. Das Kunstblatt v.9, no.i, p.18-24 Jan. 1925. 

"Zusammengestellt von Daniel Henry." 
1 6b. Maurice de Vlaminck. In Flechtheim, Alfred, Gallery. Maurice de Vlaminck, mit Bei- 

tragen von Daniel Henry, E. Teriade, und Gedichten des Malers, p.5-6 Berlin, Werk- 

kunst Verlag, 1926 (Veroffendichungen des Kunstarchivs. Nr.20.) 

Text dated igig, exhibition held Nov. 1^26. 

17. Der Tod des Juan Oris. Der Ouerschnitt {Berlin) v.7, no.7, p. 558 July 1927. 

17a. Das abenteuerliche Leben des Manuel Martinez Hugue, genannt Manolo. In Flechtheim, 
Alfred, Gallery. Manolo. p.3-8 Berlin, 1929. 
Also published in Der Ouer'schnitt v.g, no.8, p.590-^gi ic)2g. 

18. Juan Gris. i6p. plus 32 plates Leipzig, Klinkhardt & Biermann, 1929. (Junge Kunst 

Bd.55). . . . , ' 

Extracts also published in Cahiers d'Art, v.8, /pjj. 
iSa.Elie Lascaux. In Flechtheim, Alfred, Gallery. Elie Lascaux [exhibition catalog] p.8 Ber- 
lin, Diisseldorf, 1930. 

19. Juan Gris. In Ziirich. Kunsthaus. Juan Gris-Fernand Leger. p.24-27 Paris, Cahiers 

d'Art, 1933. 

Special edition issued for exhibitions of April and May. 

20. Introduction. In Buchholz Gallery, New York. Andre Masson [exhibition catalog] 1942. 

Translated by Maria Jolas. Also published in Volontes {Paris) Nov. j, 79^5. 

21. La naissance du cubisme. Les Temps Modernes {Paris) v.i, no.4, p.625-639, Jan. 1946. 

22. The state of painting in Paris, 1945 assessment. Horizon {London) v. 12, no.71, p.333- 

341, Nov. 1945. 

23. Elie Lascaux. Centres {Limoges) no.3 Feb. 1946. 

24. Faut-il ecrire une histoire du gout? Critique {Paris) no.5, p.423-429, Oct. 1946. 

25. Eugene de Kermadec. La Revue Internationale {Paris) v.2, no. 11, p.397-403, Dec. 1946. 

26. Juan Gris: sa vie, son oeuvre, ses ecrits. 344p. plus 51 plates Paris, Gallimard, 1946. 

hsued in revised edition, English text. New Yor\ 1947. 

27. Juan Gris, his life and work. i77p. plus 113 plates New York, Curt Valentin, 1947. 

A translation and revision, by Douglas Cooper, of French edition {1946). 

28. A propos d'une conference de Paul Klee. Les Temps Modernes (Paris) v.2, no.i6, p.758- 

764, Jan. 1947. 

29. La place de Georges Seurat. Critique (Paris) v.2, no. 8-9, p. 54-59, Jan.-Feb. 1947. 

30. Andre Masson illustrateur. In Skira, Albert (Publisher). Vingt ans d'activite. p.20 

[Geneve, 1948]. 

31. L'Art negre et le cubisme. Presence Africaine (Paris-Da\ar) no.3 ^9A'^- 

Also published in Horizon (London), 1948. 

32. Negro art and cubism. Horizon (London) v. 18, no. 108, p.412-420, Dec. 1948. 

33. Juan Gris In San Francisco. Museum of Art. Picasso, Gris, Miro: the Spanish masters of 

twentieth century painting, p.67-73 San Francisco, The Museum, 1948. 

34. Mallarme et la peinture. Les Lettres v.3, part 3, special number, 1948. 

35- Le veritable Bearnais. Artes (Antwerp) no. r 1948. 

'36. Ursprung und Entwicklung des Kubismus. In Jardot, Maurice & Martin, Kurt. Die Mei- 
ster franzosischer Malerei der Gegenwart. Baden-Baden, Woldemar Klein, 1948. 

37. Preface. In Brussels. Palais des Beaux-Arts. Henri Laurens [exhibition catalog] Mar. 


38. Preface. In Malraux, Andre. Les Conquerants, illustre par Andre Masson. Geneve, Al- 

bert Skira, 1949. 

39. Les Sculptures de Picasso. 216 photographies de Brassai. Paris, Editions du Chene, 1949. 

40. The Rise of Cubism. New York, Wittenborn, Schultz, Inc., 1949. (Documents of modern 

art, edited by Robert Motherwell.) 

Translation by Henry Aronson of: Der Weg zum Kubismus (1920). 


To my friend Hermann Rupf 

Chapter : i 

Impressionism rejuvenated painting ; it brightened the palette and broke with 
old superfluous laws. Its goal, however, was too limited to suffice for more than 
one generation. With it, illusionism appeared as one last burst of color pyro- 
technics, sputtered and extinguished itself. 

The period following Impressionism must be described as lyric, not lyric in 
the literary sense of mood, but lyric in the painterly sense of form. The purpose 
of recording history, which painting had fulfilled before Masaccio in a narrative 
fashion and after him in a dramatic fashion, had vanished. 

And for that reason painting in our time has become lyric, its stimulus the 
pure intense delight in the beauty of things. Lyric painting celebrates this beauty 
without epic or dramatic overtones. It strives to capture this beauty in the unity 
of the work of art. The nature of the new painting is clearly characterized as 
representational as well as structural: representational in that it tries to repro- 
duce the formal beauty of things ; structural in its attempt to grasp the meaning 
of this formal beauty in the painting. 

Representation and structure conflict. Their reconciliation by the new paint- 
ing, and the stages along the road to this goal, are the subject of this work. 

Chapter : 2 

At the beginning of the road two attempts may be distinguished. The first 
collapsed with the death of its originator, the highly gifted Georges Seurat. It 
was destined to collapse. Seurat's solution was not new; it resembled Egyptian 
painting in its effort to translate depth into plane relations. Lyricism of form 
could never have been realized in this way, and so the expression of the artistic 
intention of the time was not achieved. 

The second attempt was that of Paul Cezanne, the point of departure for all 
painting of today. His art was lyric. In it there was no longer any motivation 
other than delight in form. He struggled with the object, trying to capture it in 
all its beauty and carry it into his painting. Where his friends the Impressionists 
saw only light, he used light to shape the three dimensional object. 

To understand Cezanne's limitations one must remember the time in which 
he lived. His friends were the plein air painters, worshippers of light. To be sure, 
he regarded the object, not light, as the essential, but he was too much of 
his time to have been able to renounce the concept of light falling from a single 
source. On the other hand, he disregarded the color of the object and concen- 
trated on its form. 

Therefore, his renunciation of illusionism was only partial. Cezanne's tech- 

nique is as follows: perspective is mostly conceived as if the spectator stands 
higher than the objects in the painting. This allows a more penetrating delinea- 
tion of their forms without, however, destroying their fidelity to nature. As we 
have already seen, light is used as a means of representing objects, but without 
falling from several sides. The color is objectivated light on the object. It clings, 
here too in the spirit of the time, to harmonies : a yellow gray tone in his maturity, 
a red brown tone in his later years. The artist's constant preoccupation is with 
the structure of the work; in the structure he distorts the object, just as in the 
color harmony he discolors it. 

Cezanne seems to have felt discoloration to be the lesser evil; distorting the 
form made him suffer more. That is evident from all his conversations. Oppo- . 
nents of his art, failing to understand the conflict in the soul of this artist who 
was so in advance of his time, tried often enough to turn these utterances against 
him, but closer observation will reveal that distortion of form had to occur in his 
work. Art since Masaccio had no such distortion to fear since it had thrown 
structure entirely overboard. It accepted transformation of color through color 
harmonies calmly, as Cezanne also did. However, as soon as a lyric art sought to 
extoU the form of objects and, simultaneously, to comprehend them within the 
unity of the work of art, distortion of the object became necessary, although 
unpleasant, since it was a betrayal of just that beauty which was to be extolled. 
Cezanne's great contribution which has made him the father of the entire 
liew art lies precisely in his return to structure. Here Cezanne took that great step 
beyond the painter who must be regarded as his predecessor : Corot. Not Cprot, 
the virtuoso of sunsets, but the master of the Pont de Mantes and figure paint- 
ings. Corot had already made persistent attempts to grasp the three dimensional 
object, but had not sought structure. Therefore, one finds no distortion in his 

In what respect Cezanne's great follower Andre Derain goes beyond him is 
easy to see ; Derain also felt transformation of color to be an evil. He strives to 
organize his structure in such a way that the painting, though strongly unified, 
nevertheless shows the greatest possible fidelity to nature, with every object be- 
ing given its "true" form and its "true" color. Light becomes for him a pure 
means ; he guides it as it best supports the creation of form, and subordinates it, 
whenever possible, to the local color. There is no question here of the aesthetic 
worth of his austere and mighty art ; he is one of the greatest of French painters. 
Cezanne and Derain will stand in art history, like the masters of the Trecento, 
as painters of transition, but in a reverse sense. Their solution of the conflict be- 
tween representation and structure in painting will never result in complete suc- 
cess. Encouraged by their great example Cubism seeks new paths to the solution 
of this conflict. 


Chapter : 3 

At the outset, a few prefatory words concerning the name of this school are 
necessary to avoid considering it as a program, and thus arrive at false conclu- 
sions. As the name "Impressionism" had been before, "Cubism" was a deroga- 
tory term applied by its enemies. Its inventor was Louis Vauxcelles, at that time 
art critic of the Gil Bias; sometime before, in the years 1904-05, he had coined an- 
other meaningless name for the avant garde of the Independants of that time — 
"Les Fauves," the wild beasts — a term which has since fortunately disappeared.* 

In September 1908 he met Matisse who was a member of the Salon d'Autorrme 
jury for that year, and who told him that Braque had sent to the Fall Salon 
paintings "avec des petits cubes." To describe them he drew on a piece of paper 
two ascending lines meeting in a peak, and between them some cubes. 

He was referring to Braque's landscapes of I'Estaque painted that spring. With 
the sensitivity characteristic of such bodies, the jury rejected two of the six paint- 
ings submitted. One was "fished out again," as someone put it, by Marquet, and 
another by Guerin, both of whom were members of the jury, but Braque never- 
theless withdrew all six. 

* This book was written in 1915 [translator's note]. 

From Matisse's word "cube" Vauxcelles then invented the meaningless "Cub- 
ism" which he used for the first time in an article on the 1909 Salon des Inde- 
pendants, in connection with two other paintings by Braque, a still life and a 
landscape. Strangely enough he later added to this term the adjective "peruvien" 
and spoke of "Peruvian Cubism" and "Peruvian Cubists" which made the desig- 
nation even more meaningless. This adjective soon disappeared, but the name 
"Cubism" endured and entered colloquial language, since Braque and Picasso, 
the painters originally so designated, cared very little whether they were called 
that or something else. 

These two artists are the great founders of Cubism. In the evolution of the 
new art, the contributions of both are intimately related, often hardly distin- 
guishable. Friendly conversations between the two afforded the new method of 
painting many advances which one or the other first put into practice. Both de- 
serve credit; both are great and admirable artists, each in his own way. Braque's 
art is quieter, Picasso's is nervous and turbulent. The lucid Frenchman Braque 
and the fanatically searching Spaniard Picasso stand together. 

In the year 1906, Braque, Derain, Matisse and many others were still striving 
for expression through color, using only pleasant arabesques, and completely 
dissolving the form of the object! Cezanne's great example was still not under- 
stood. Painting threatened to debase itself to the level of ornamentation ; it sought 
to be "decorative," to "adorn" the wall. 

Picasso had remained indifferent to the temptation of color. He had pursued 
another path, never abandoning his concern for the object. The literary "expres- 
sion" which had existed in his earlier work now vanished. A lyricism of form re- 
taining fidelity to nature began to take shape. He created large nudes roundly 
modeled in chiaroscuro. They appeared "classic" and his friends referred to a 
"Pompeiian Period." But Picasso's intention remained unfulfilled. 

Here it should be made clear that I do not mean an established program when 
I speak of Picasso's or Braque's intentions, endeavors and thoughts. I am attempt- 
ing to describe in words the inner urge of these artists, the ideas no doubt clearly 
in their minds, yet rarely mentioned in their conversations, and then only casu- 

Toward the end of 1906, then, the soft round contours in Picasso's paintings '' 
gave way to hard angular forms; instead of delicate rose, pale yellow and light 
green, the massive forms were weighted with leaden white, gray and black. 

Early in 1907 Picasso began a strange large painting* depicting women, fruit 
and drapery, which he left unfinished. It cannot be called other than unfinished, 
even though it represents a long period of work. Begun in the spirit of the works 

* Les Demoiselles d' Avignon. Reproduced on p. 23. 


of 1906, it contains in one section the endeavors of 1907 and thus never consti- 
tutes a unified whole. 

The nudes, with large, quiet eyes, stand rigid, like mannequins. Their stiff, 
round bodies are flesh-colored, black and white. That is the style of 1906. 

In the foreground, however, alien to the style of the rest of the painting, ap- 
pear a crouching figure and a bowl of fruit. These forms are drawn angularly, 
not roundly modeled in chiaroscuro. The colors are luscious blue, strident yel- 
low, next to pure black and white. This is the beginning of Cubism, the first 
upsurge, a desperate titanic clash with all of the problems at once. , 

Chese problem^were the basic tasks of pain ting: to represent three dimensions / 
£elor on a flat surface, and to comprehend them m the unity of that surfaced 
"Representation," however, and "comprehension" in the strictest and highest 
sense. Not the simulation of form by chiaroscuro, but the depiction of the three 
dimensional through drawing on a flat surface. No pleasant "composition" but 
uncompromising, organically articulated structure. In addition, there was the 
problem of color, and finally, the most difficult of all, that of the amalgamation, 
the reconciliation of the whole. 

Rashly, Picasso attacked all the problems at once. He placed sharp-edged im- 
ages on the canvas, heads and nudes mostly, in the brightest colors : yellow, red, 
blue and black. He applied the colors in thread-like fashion to serve as lines of 
direction, and to build up, in conjunction with the drawing, the plastic effect. 
But, after months of the most laborious searching, Picasso realized that com- 
plete solution of the problem did not lie in this direction. 

At this point I must make it clear that these paintings are no less "beautiful" 
for not having attained their goal. An artist who is possessed of the divine gift, 
genius, always produces aesthetic creations, whatever their aspect, whatever 
their "appearance" may be. His innermost being creates the beauty ; the external 
appearance of the work of art, however, is the product of the time in which it is 

A short period of exhaustion followed; the artist's battered spirit turned to 
problems of pure structure. A series of pictures appeared in which he seems to 
have been occupied only with the articulation of the color planes. This with- 
drawal from the diversity of the physical world to the undisturbed peace of the 
work of art was of short duration. Soon Picasso perceived the danger of lowering 
his art to the level of ornament. 

In the spring of 1908 he resumed his quest, this time solving one by one the 
problems that arose. He had to begin with the most important thing, and that 
seemed to be the explanation of form, the representation of the three-dimen- / 
sional and its position in space on a two dimensional surface. As Picasso himself 

once said, "In a Raphael painting it is not possible to establish the distance from 
the tip of the nose to the mouth. I should like to paint pictures in which that 
would be possible." At the same time of course, the problem of comprehension 
— of structure — was always in the foreground. The question of color, on the 
other hand, was completely by-passed. 

Thus Picasso painted figures resembling Congo sculptures, and still lifes of 
the simplest form. His perspective in these works is similar to that of Cezanne. 
Light is never more than a means to create form — through chiaroscuro, since 
he did not at this time repeat the unsuccessful attempt of 1907 to create form 
through drawing. Of these paintings one can no longer say, "The light comes 
from this or that side," because light has become completely a means. The pic- 
tures are almost monochromatic ; brick red and red brown, often with a gray or 
gray green ground, since the color is meant only to be chiaroscuro. 

While Picasso was painting in Paris, and in the summer, at La Rue-des-Bois 
(near Creil, Oise), Braque, at the other end of France, in I'Estaque (near Mar- 
seilles) was painting the series of landscapes we have already mentioned. No 
connection existed between the two artists. This venture was a completely new 
one, totally different from Picasso's work of 1907; by an entirely different route 
Braque arrived at the same point as Picasso. If, in the whole history of art, there 
were not already sufficient proof that the appearance of the aesthetic product is 
conditioned in its particularity by the spirit of the time, that even the most power- 
ful artists unconsciously execute its will, then this would be proof. Separated by 
distance, and working independently, the two artists devoted their most intense 
effort to paintings which share an extraordinary resemblance. This relationship 
between their paintings continued but ceased to be astonishing because the 
friendship between the two artists, begun in the winter of that year, brought 
about a constant exchange of ideas. 
— , Picasso and Braque had to begin with objects of the simplest sort: in land- 
scape, with cylindrical tree trunks and rectangular houses; in still life, with 
plates, symmetrical vessels, round fruits and one or two nude figures. They 
sought to make these objects as plastic as possible, and to define their position in 
space. Here we touch upon the indirect advantage of lyric painting. It has made 
us aware of the beauty of form in the simplest objects, where we had carelessly 
overlooked it before. These objects have now become eternally vivid in the re- 
flected splendor of the beauty which the artist has abstracted from them. 

Derain, too, had abandoned decorative light painting in 1907, preceding 
Braque by a few months. But from the outset, their roads were diverse. Derain's 
endeavor to retain fidelity to nature in his painting separates him forever from 
Cubism, no matter how closely his ideas may otherwise parallel those of Braque. 


Chapter : 4 

In the winter of 1908, the two friends began to work along common and par- 
allel paths. The subjects of their still life painting became more complex, the 
representation of nudes more detailed. The relation of objects to one another 
underwent further differentiation, and structure, heretofore relatively uncom- 
plicated — as, for example, in a still life of the spring of 1907 whose struc- 
ture forms a simple spiral — took on more intricacy and variety. Color, as the 
expression of light, or chiaroscuro, continued to be used as a means of shaping 
form. Distortion of form, the usual consequence of the conflict between repre- 
sentation and structure, was strongly evident. 

Among the new subjects introduced at this time were musical instruments, 
which Braque was the first to paint, and which continued to play such an im- 
portant role in cubist still life painting. Other new motifs were fruit bowls, bottles 
and glasses. 

During the summer of 1909 which Picasso spent at Horta (near Tolosa, Spain) 
and Braque at La Roche Guyon (on the Seine, near Mantes) the new language 
of form was further augmented and enriched, but left essentially unchanged. 

Several times during the spring of 1910 Picasso attempted to endow the forms 
of his pictures with color. That is, he tried to use color not only as an expression 
of light, or chiaroscuro,' for the creation of form, but rather as an equally im- 
portant end in itself. Each time he was obliged to paint over the color he had 
thus introduced; the single exception is a small nude of the period (about 18 x 23 
centimeters in size) in which a piece of fabric is colored in brilliant red. 

At the same time Braque made an important discovery. In one of his pictures 
he painted a completely naturalistic nail casting its shadow on a wall. The use- 
fulness of this innovation will be discussed later. The difficulty lay in the in- 
corporation of this "real" object into the unity of the painting. From then on, 
both artists consistently limited the space in the background of the picture. In a 
/ landscape, for instance, instead of painting an illusionistic distant horizon in 
which the eye lost itself, the artists closed the three dimensional space with a 
mountain. In still life or nude painting, the wall of a room served the same pur- 
pose. This method of limiting space had already been used frequently by Ce- 

During the summer, again spent in I'Estaque, Braque took a further step in 
the introduction of "real objects," that is, of realistically painted things intro- 
duced, undistorted in form and color, into the picture. We find lettering for the 
I first time in a Guitar Player of the period. Here again, lyrical painting un- 
covered a new world of beauty — this time in posters, display windows and 
commercial signs which play so important a role in our visual impressions. 

Much more important, however, was the decisive advance which set Cubism 
free from the language previously used by painting. This occurred in Cadaques 
(in Spain, on the Mediterranean near the French border) where Picasso spent 
his summer. Little satisfied, even after weeks of arduous labor, he returned to 
Paris in the fall with his unfinished works. But he had taken the great step ; he 
had pierced the closed form. A new tool had been forged for the achievement of 
the new purpose. 

Years of research had proved that closed form did not permit an expression 
sufficient for the two artists' aims. Closed form accepts objects as contained by 
their own surfaces, viz., the skin; it then endeavors to represent this closed 
body, and, since no object is visible without light, to paint this "skin" as the con- 
tact point between the body and light where both merge into color. This chia- 
roscuro can provide only an illusion of the form of objects. In the actual three 
dimensional world the object is there to be touched even after light is eliminated. 
Memory images of tactile perceptions can also be verified on visible bodies. The 
different accommodations of the retina of the eye enable us, as it were, to "touch" 
three dimensional objects from a distance. Two dimensional painting is not con- 


cerned with all this. Thus the painters of the Renaissance, using the closed form ^ 
method, endeavored to give the illusion of form by painting light as color on the 

' surface of objects. It was never more than "illusion." 

Since it was the mission of color to create the form as chiaroscuro, or light that 
had become perceivable, there was no possibility of rendering local color or color ^ 
itself. It could only be painted as objectivated light. 

^n addition, Braque and Picasso were disturbed by the unavoidable distortion 
of form which worried many spectators initiallvNpicasso himself often repeated 
the ludicrous remark made by his friend, the sculptor Manolo, before one of his 
figure paintings : "What would you say if your parents were to call for you at the 
Barcelona station with such faces.''" This is a drastic example of the relation be- 
tween memory images and the figures represented in the painting. Comparison 
between the real object as articulated by the rhythm of forms in the painting and 
the same object as it exists in the spectator's memory inevitably results in "distor- 
tions" as long as even the slightest verisimilitude in the work of art creates this 
conflict in the spectator. Through the combined discoveries of Braque and Pi- 
casso during the summer of 1910 it became possible to avoid these difficulties by a 
new way of painting. 

/" Dn the one hand, Picasso's new method made it possible to "represent" the 
form of objects and their position in space instead of attempting to imitate them 

through illusionistic means. With the representation of solid objects this could 
be effected by a process of representation that has a certain resemblance to geo- 
metrical drawing. This is a matter of course since the aim of both is to render 
the three dimensional object on a two dimensional plane. In addition, the painter 
no longer has to limit himself to depicting the object as it would appear from 
one given viewpoint, but wherever necessary for fuller comprehension, can show 
it from several sides, and from above and below. 

Representation of the position of objects in space is done as follows : instead of 
beginning from a supposed foreground and going on from there to give an il- 
lusion of depth by means of perspective, the painter begins from a definite and j 
clearly defined background. Starting from this background the painter now 
works toward the front by a sort of scheme of forms in which each object's po- 
sition is clearly indicated, both in relation to the definite background and to 
other objects. Such an arrangement thus gives a clear and plastic view. But, if 
only this scheme of forms were to exist it would be impossible to see in the paint- 
ing the "representation" of things from the outer world. One would only see an 
arrangement of planes, cylinders, quadrangles, etc. 

At this point Braque's introduction of undistorted real objects into the paint- 
ing takes on its full significance. When "real details" are thus introduced the 

result is a stimulus which carries with it memory images. Combining the "real" 
stimulus and the scheme of forms, these images construct the finished object in 
the mind. Thus the desired physical representation comes into being in the spec- 
tator's mind. 

Now the rhythmisation necessary for the coordination of the individual parts 
into the unity of the work of art can take place without producing disturbing 
distortions, since the object in effect is no longer "present" in the painting, that 
is, since it does not yet have the least resemblance to actuality. Therefore, the 
stimulus cannot come into conflict with the product of the assimilation. In other 
words, there exist in the painting the scheme of forms and small real details as 
stimuli integrated into the unity of the work of art; there exists, as well, but 
only in the mind of the spectator, the finished product of the assimilation, the 
human head, for instance. There is no possibihty of a conflict here, and yet the 
object once "recognized" in the painting is now "seen" with a perspicacity of 
which no illusionistic art is capable. 

As to color, its utilization as chiaroscuro had been abolished. Thus, it could be 
freely employed, as color, within the unity of the work of art. For the representa- 
tion of local color, its application on a small scale is sufficient to effect its incor- 
poration into the finished representation in the mind of the spectator. 

In the words of Locke, these painters distinguish between primary and see- — ^ 
ondary qualities. They endeavor to represent the primary, or most important 
qualitiesy-as exactly as possible ^In- painting thesear e: the object 's form, and its 
position in space. They merely suggest the secondary characteristics such"aS" 
color and tactile quality, leaving their incorporation into the object to the mind 
of the spectator. ^^^^""^ 

This new language has given painting an unprecedented freedom. It is no 
longer bound to the more or less verisimilar optic image which describes the ob- 
ject from a single viewpoint. It can, in order to give a thorough representation 
of the object's primary characteristics, depict them as stereometric drawing on 
the plane, or, through several representations of the same object, can provide an 
analytical study of that object which the spectator then fuses into one again 
in his mind. The representation does not necessarily have to be in the closed man- 
ner of the stereometric drawing ; colored planes, through their direction and rel- 
ative position, can bring together the formal scheme without uniting in closed 
fornis.'This was the great advance made at Cadaques. Instead of an analytical 
description, the painter can, if he prefers, also create in this way a synthesis of 
the object, or in the words of Kant, "put together the various conceptions and 
comprehend their variety in one perception." 

Naturally, with this, as with any new mode of expression in painting, the as- 


similation which leads to seeing the represented things objectively does not im- 
mediately take place when the spectator is unfamiliar with the new language. 
But for lyric painting to fulfill its purpose completely, it must be more than just 
a pleasure to the eye of the spectator. To be sure, assimilation always takes place 
finally, but in order to facilitate it, and impress its urgency upon the spectator, 
cubist pictures should always be provided with descriptive titles, such as Bottle 
and Glass, Playing Cards and Dice and so on. In this way, the condition will 
arise which H. G. Lewes referred to as "preperception" and memory images 
connected with the title will then focus much more easily on the stimuli in the 

Titling will also prevent sensory illusions of the kind which gave Cubism its 
name, and brought about its designation, so popular, particularly in France, as a 
geometric style. Here we must make a sharp distinction between the impression 
made upon the spectator and the lines of the painting itself. The name "Cubism" 
and the designation "Geometric Art" grew out of the impression of early spec- 
tators who "saw" geometric forms in the paintings.'^his impression is unjusti- 
fied, since the visual conception desired by the painter by no means resides in 
the geometric forms, but rather in the representation of the reproduced objects^ 

How does such a sensory illusion come about .'' It occurs only with observers 
whom lack of habit has prevented from making the associations which lead to 
objective perception. Man is possessed by an urge to objectivate; he wants to 
"see something" in the work of art which should — and he is sure of this — rep- 
resent something. His imagination forcefully calls up memory images, but the 
only ones which present themselves, the only ones which seem to fit the straight 
lines and uniform curves are geometric images. Experience has shown that this 
"geometric impression" disappears completely as soon as the spectator familiar- 
izes himself with the new method of expression and gains in perception. 

If we disregard representation, however, and limit ourselves to the "actual" in- 
dividual lines in the painting, there is no disputing the fact that they are very 
often straight lines and uniform curves. Furthermore, the forms which they 
serve to delineate are often similar to the circle and rectangle, or even to stereo- 
metric representations of cubes, spheres and cylinders. But, such straight lines 
and uniform curves are present in all styles of the plastic arts which do not have 
as their goal the illusionistic imitation of nature! Architecture, which is a plastic 
art, but at the same time non-representational, uses these lines extensively. The 
same is true of applied art. Man creates no building, no product which does not 
have regular lines. In architecture and applied art, cubes, spheres and cylinders 
are the permanent basic forms. They do not exist in the natural world, nor do 
straight lines. But they are deeply rooted in man ; they are the necessary condi- 


tion for all objective perception. 

Our remarks until now about visual perception have concerned its content 
alone, the two dimensional "seen" and the three dimensional "known" visual 
images. Now we are concerned with the form of these images, the form of our 
perception of the physical world. The geometric forms we have just mentioned 
provide us with the solid structure; on this structure we build the products of 
our imagination which are composed of stimuli on the retina and memory im- 
ages. They are our categories of vision. When we direct our view on the outer 
world, we always demand those forms but they are never given to us in all 
their purity. The flat picture which we "see" bases itself mainly on the straight 
horizontal and vertical, and secondly on the circle. We test the "seen" lines of the 
physical world for their greater or lesser relationship to these basic lines. Where 
no actual line exists, we supply the "basic" line ourselves. For example, a water 
horizon which is limited on both sides appears horizontal to us; one which is 
unlimited on both sides appears curved. Furthermore, only our knowledge of 
simple stereometric forms enables us to add the third dimension to the flat pic- 
ture which our eye perceives. Without the cube, we would have no feeling of 
the three dimensionality of objects, and without the sphere and cylinder, no 
feeling of the varieties of this three dimensionality. Our a priori knowledge of 
these forms is the necessary condition, without which there would be no seeing, 
no world of objects. Architecture and applied art realize in space these basic 
forms which we always demand in vain of the natural world ; the sculpture of 
periods which have turned away from nature approaches these forms insofar as 
its representational goal permits, and the two-dimensional painting of such pe- 
riods gives expression to the same longing in its use of "basic lines." Humanity 
is possessed not only by the longing for these lines and forms, but also by the 
ability to create them. This ability shows itself clearly in those civilizations in 
which no "representational" plastic art has produced other lines and forms. 

In its works Cubism, in accordance with its role as both constructive and rep- 
resentational art, brings the forms of the physical world as close as possible to 
their underlying basic forms. Through connection with these basic forms, upon 
which all visual and tactile perception is based, Cubism provides the clearest elu- 
cidation and foundation of all forms. The unconscious effort which we have to 
make with each object of the physical world before we can perceive its form is 
lessened by cubist painting through its demonstration of the relation between 
these objects and basic forms. Like a skeletal frame these basic forms underUe 
the impression of the represented object in the final visual result of the painting; 
they are no longer "seen" but are the basis of the "seen" form. 

It is not our intention to outline a complete history of Cubism here. We would 


exceed the limits of this work if we were to follow the development of the two 
artists any further, now that the definitive language of the new art has been 
created. Our mission was to fix the position of Cubism in the history of paint- 
ing, and to demonstrate the motives which guided its founders. 

This new style has taken ever greater possession of the appearance of paint- 
ing; an ever growing number of painters has begun to paint "cubistically." This 
lyric painting is the expression of the intellectual spirit of our time. The neces- 
sary result of this will be that all true artists of the coming generation will es- 
pouse Cubism — in the wider sense. 

Those who have already adopted Cubism include talented as well as untal- 
ented artists; in Cubism, too, they remain what they were. Those with talent cre- 
ate aesthetic products ; those without it do not. For Cubism is only an "appear- 
ance," only the result of the purpose which the intellectual spirit of the time has 
imposed upon painting. Whether the picture with the cubist appearance will be 
an aesthetic achievement, whether the aesthetically inclined spectator will be 
compelled to designate it as beautiful depends, as always, only on the painter's 
genius. Yet every talented young artist will have to come to an understanding 
with Cubism. He will have little chance of getting along without it, just as a 
contemporary of Titian in Italy could never have reverted to the style of Giotto. 
The artist, as the executor of the unconscious plastic will of mankind, identifies 
himself with the style of the period, which is the expression of this will. 

Just as the illusionistic art of the Renaissance created a tool for itself in oil 
painting, which alone could satisfy its striving for verisimilar representation of 
the smallest details, so Cubism had to invent new means for an entirely opposite 
purpose. For the planes of cubist painting oil color is often unsuitable, ugly, and 
sometimes sticky. Cubism created for itself new media in the most varied mate- 
rials: colored strips of paper, lacquer, newspaper, and in addition, for the real 
details, oilcloth, glass, sawdust, et(C) 

In the years 1913 and 1914 Braque and Picasso attempted to eliminate the use of 
color as chiaroscuro, which had still persisted to some extent in their painting, by 
amalgamating painting and sculpture. Instead of having to demonstrate through 
shadows how one plane stands above, or in front of a second plane, they could 
now superimpose the planes one on the other and illustrate the relationship di- 
rectly. The first attempts to do this go far back. Picasso had already begun such 
an enterprise in 1909, but since he did it within the limits of closed form, it was 
destined to fail. It resulted in a kind of colored bas-relief. Only in open planal 
form could this union of painting and sculpture be realized. Despite current 
prejudice, this endeavor to increase plastic expression through the collaboration 
of the two arts must be warmly approved; an enrichment of the plastic arts is 

certain to result from it. A number of sculptors like Lipchitz, Laurens and Ar- 
chipenko has since taken up and developed this sculpto-painting. 

Nor is this form entirely new in the history of the plastic arts. The negroes of 
the Ivory Coast have made use of a very similar method of expression in their 
dance masks. These are constructed as follows: a completely flat plane forms the 
lower part of the face; to this is joined the high forehead, which is sometimes 
equally flat, sometimes bent slightly backward. While the nose is added as a sim- 
ple strip of wood, two cylinders protrude about eight centimeters to form the 
eyes, and one slightly shorter hexahedron forms the mouth. The frontal surfaces 
of the cylinder and hexahedron are painted, and the hair is represented by raffia. 
It is true that the form is still closed here; however, it is not the "real" form, but 
rather a tight formal scheme of plastic primeval force. Here, too, we find a 
scheme of forms and "real details" (the painted eyes, mouth and hair) as stim- 
uli. The result in the mind of the spectator, the desired effect, is a human face. 


Chapter : 5 

Our subject is the rise of Cubism. Therefore, we cannot discuss here the 
numerous artists who later joined the movement, but only those who created it. 
One of these is Fernand Leger. It would be unjust and false not to name him 
among the pathfinders of Cubism, along with Braque and Picasso. He does not 
stand contemporaneously with them at the beginning of the road, but, following 
their stimulus, he developed in his own way, and arrived at different results. 

Leger had been a painter of light. Then one day he exhibited a large painting 
which was completely different from his previous work. It appeared in the Salon 
des Independants of the year 1910. It depicted men between trees.* Everything 
was reduced to the simplest forms ; the trees were like stove pipes, the men com- 
posed of cylinders and spheres. The color was delicate and harmonized. This 
was not Cubism, somebody said, but "Tubism." 

The years following brought only one change in Leger's art: in the color. In 
1910 and 191 1 it was still harmoniously tuned, pale and delicately applied, as if 
the forms were created out of mist. Slowly it increased in intensity until the pic- 

* Nudes in the Forest, 1909-10. Reproduced on p. 33. 

tures burst into an exultation of radiant blue, red and white in the purest tones. 

As can be seen, Leger did not begin modestly, with uncomplicated subjects. 
He has seldom painted still lifes, and has never engaged in desperate struggle 
with the object because his treatment of the object is much more arbitrary than 
Picasso's and Braque's. However, he does not succumb to the delusion of "ab- 
stract art" which is only ornamental. There is in his work always a point of de- 
parture grounded in visual experience. Sometimes he strays far from this 
point, treating the experience variously in different pictures, indulging, I might 
say, in variations on the theme. The result is an architecture of form which no 
longer conveys to the spectator the original visual experience. Leger's goal is the 
painting itself, and he subordinates everything else to it. For him, the subject 
is often a pretext rather than a theme. 

One may well ask whether this is still Cubism. Certainly it is, even if Leger at- 
taches too exclusive a significance to the unity of the painting at the expense of 
diversity of the visual experience. But, adherence to the visual experience is still 
and nevertheless the basis of Leger's work, and it is still adherence in the cubist 
sense. We have recognized Cubism as the endeavor to capture the three dimen- 
sional diversity of the outer world within the unity of the painting. Cubism 
seeks to reproduce that three dimensional diversity — the dimension of depth 
— in contrast to the "playing cards" of Manet, Gauguin and Matisse, and the 
plane projections of Seurat. As the silly name "Cubism" put it, with accidental 
correctness : Braque and Picasso emphasize the cubic. 

Leger does the same: he is a cubist. But he emphasizes it with other means 
than those of Braque and Picasso. Because of that he is entitled to a place in this 

Leger simplifies and coarsens his forms. He returns them to shapes most 
closely resembling the basic forms of cube, sphere and cylinder, while showing 
a special preference for the cylinder. In doing this he is always careful to pre- 
serve the closed form, never reaching the point of rupturing it. A figure painted 
by Leger appears like a powerful Golem, a clumsy puppet. The forms are 
molded and arched through chiaroscuro in the simplest, most significant way. 
Light serves only to depict the form. This is done with the greatest possible em- 
phasis by lighting one side and shading the other. Little attention is given to the 
space; the relative position of the objects in the painting is made clear through 
overlapping, and sometimes through ordinary linear perspective. The eye is 
led, as in pre-cubist painting, deep into the "background." 

Leger is not shy about distorting the object. A powerfully undulating rhythm 
of forms organizes the planes of his paintings. In the wake of this rhythm, the 
objects which make up the picture are ruthlessly distorted. 


In the above description we see again to some extent the tendencies we recog- 
nized as significant for the years 1908 and 1909 in the work of Picasso and 
Braque. But Leger departs entirely from these tendencies in his treatment of 
color. That is easy to understand. Leger is, as I have said, much more arbitrary 
in his attitude toward the object than the other two painters. What to them was 
only a necessary passing concession — the suppression or the coarsening of de- 
tails — is Leger's final goal. He oflfers the spectator big lumpish syntheses im- 
prisoned in a cyclopian, piled-up structure. An artist who treats the forms of the 
object so outrageously certainly cannot regard its color as inviolable; that is un- 
derstandable. He colors the forms in his paintings arbitrarily, in accordance with 
their function in the work. He is hardly concerned with the actual color of the 
represented object. In this respect also he is basically different from Braque and 
; Picasso who devoted so much effort in the years from 1910 to 1914 to the repro- 
I duction of this "local color." The endeavor of those two artists, devoted to the 
most penetrating expression of the object, is completely foreign to Leger. 

And now, what does Leger really want ? He wants to produce an effect. He 
strives for the weightiest three dimensionality of form and for stridency of color. 
He is animated by a desire to endow his painting with power, to make it domi- 
nate and sweep everything before it. Leger's work shows a wealth of unspent, 
boundlessly seething strength. 


Picasso, Two Xiides 


Chapter : 6 

Many artists who use the cubist language of forms have tried to use it for aims 
other than those we have outHned. Only two of these attempts deserve mention 
here, for only these two have a palpable significance. 

I am referring in the first place to that movement called Futurism, which in- 
cludes the Italian school of that name as well as several isolated artists, like Mar- 
cel Duchamp, who have pursued similar aims. Even before the Futurists went 
over to Cubism, while they were still using Divisionist techniques, the subject 
of all their manifestoes was dynamism, the endeavor to represent movement in 
painting and sculpture. This idea has not been abandoned since that time, for a 
book by Boccioni, one of the school, which was published in 1913 contrasted 
"static" Cubism with "dynamic" Futurism. 

The Futurists tried to represent movement by depicting the moved part of the 
body several times in various positions, by reproducing two or more phases of 
movement of the entire figure, or by lengthening or widening the represented 
object in the direction of the movement. Can the impression of a moving form 
be awakened in the spectator in this way .'' 

It cannot. All of these solutions suffer from the same mistake which renders 
that impression impossible. In order to produce "movement," at least two vis- 


ual images must exist as succeeding points in time. In Futurism, however, the 
various phases exist simultaneously in the painting. They will always be felt as 
diflferent, static, single figures, but never as a moving image. This is borne out 
by fact, as observation of paintings by Carra, Severini or Boccioni will show. 

In this way, therefore, the representation of movement in the plastic arts is 
impossible. But, if it were possible, such representation would be a tremendous 
source of enrichment. Instead of acting through one single impression, the plas- 
tic arts would also call into participation those emotions heretofore aroused in 
us only by music, which extends in time. These emotions are associated with 
tension and release, sensations possible only in a succession of time. Is there such 
a possibility ? 

There exist, in fact, two possibilities, both of which Picasso has indicated in 
conversations, without even suspecting their scientific basis; nor has he as yet 
applied them in practice. 

The first corresponds to the actual movement of the body. This would involve 
imparting movement to the work of art by means of a clock mechanism, and 
could be accompUshed with statues as well as paintings — in paintings as with 
targets in shooting booths which are set into motion by the marksmen's direct 

There is still another way of bringing about the impression of movement in 
the mind of the spectator — the stroboscopic method, upon which the cinemato- 
graph is based. If images differing to a small enough extent in their spatial defi- 
nitions are shown in rapid enough succession, an illusion of one object in move- 
ment results. The first visual image establishes the object, and the succeeding im- 
ages establish the object in movement. This method has already been employed 
for humorous drawings. By painting the various pictures on a transparent ma- 
terial and showing them through a cinematograph projector, a new field with 
immeasurable possibilities would open for painting. 

In addition to Futurism, there is another tendency, which, designating its aim 
as non-objective painting, harmoniously composes colored forms on canvas with- 
out any relation to natural objects. 

We can have no doubts about this tendency. It can certainly create pleasant 
works, but it is not painting. It does not know the basic problem of painting: the 
comprehension of the diversity of the physical world in the unity of the work of 
art. It by-passes all of the problems which have occupied lyric painting for years. 
Its works seek only to be decorative. This tendency was not called forth by the 
artistic, but by the decorative urge. What the followers of this movement are cre- 
ating is simply ornament. 

But as ornament, it does not make use of the proper means when it uses the 


paper strips and other media of Cubism, instead of the rich world of ceramics, 
textiles and glass. When this tendency, finally cognizant of its true nature, de- 
cides to give up all claim to being painting, and when it makes use of all of the 
possibilities of ornament, it will bring new blood to handicrafts, and will create 
the style of our time. 

For a style grows organically out of the aesthetic creation of its time, and 
Cubism has pointed the way — Cubism, which Picasso and Braque created 
through their intense labors. 

Picasso, Les Demoiselles d' Avignon 


Braque, Nude 

Picasso, Two Nudes 


Braque, Road near Estaque 


Picasso, Woman with Mandolin 

Picasso, Woman with Mandoliii {Fanny Tellier) 


Braque, Woman with Mandolin 


Braque, The Portuguese Guitar Player 


'«t4!'' "'dS -fe^ 


Picasso, Glass, Pipe, Playing Card 


Picasso, 5/;// Life 

Braque, Oial Still Life 


Leger, Two Pipe Smo/^ers 


Leger, Smo^e over Roofs 


Leger, The Card Party 


Date Due 
Due Returned Due Returned 

This is the ninth volume in the series 
"The Documents of Modern Art." 
The book is set in i2-on-i4 point 
Linotype Granjon with Granjon display and 
printed on North Star Dull paper. The engravings 
vi^ere made by the Carlton Engraving Company of 
Worcester, Mass. The composition, printing 
and binding have been done by E. L. Hildreth 
& Company, Brattleboro, Vt. 

Cover and typography by Paul Rand. 
Inside cover design composed by Paul Rand using 
drawings and prints by Braque, Leger and Picasso 
taken from the original German edition. 
Drawing on cover by Georges Braque. 

B-5-1 10.0.0. 

75^. f / 





DocwmsmfS of Modern Art (Oirecror: Rub«rf Mofherw«U) 

d.nvo I. The Cubisi Paintars (Aesthetic Meciitationsl, '< 'Ueunte Apoirmair*. 

T-.d'ited by RobeK Moth«rwell. TranslOfed from the French !■.. i^-Tsi Absl, 2nd r«v!»(Ki « 
', I th addirional material. 36 pp., 12 ill., 19«?. $1.75. 

■'I.OrjtlC Art end Pure Plastic Art, by fief Mon .-.a by Robert Mothervr ■ 

Iniroductibn by Harry Holtiman. i3 pp., 2 color plalci, 7* ill . Vtid prinfing, 1947. $3.'J5. 

'Ka Mew Vision, -by i^'i-' ;'>^i"-.^.v-rj^,„.,. hr,;i;-,v;..,j kv i.,-< n,,)„i>;,„-,:-H.n^„--,v „ofB, Abii'O'-* 

of on Artist, Ertilcii ,.' Wohet C; 

piu.i, Tronilotion compiuieiy i~.vr,.vo with Mohoiy-N.-igyj lipprovc-l IrsJ"-. :"•?! arigrnol tron-. 
I. an trom ihe Geimon by Dophna Hoffman. 92 pp.,, 84 ill., 4th revijerf edition, 1947. $3. 

d.m.a. 4. Kindergarten Chats, by Loui» H. Sulliyan, with Other Wrilingi. Edited t)y tjobello Athe. 
251 pp., 18 ;n., 1947. $4.30. 

d m c^. i. Concerning the Spiritual in Art and Painting In Porticular, by Woi>ity Kon 

dinjky. With Kandinsky'i Proje Poems. Edited by Robert M«th»r*elL Pr*fo<«] h: 
Mme. Kondiliiicy, iulia end lycnel Feininger, ond o contribution by S. W. Hoyter. Troratoted 
from the Germon by Sir Michael Sodleir, with rowisions by I'. Golffng, M, Horfison. ond F. 
Ojtertqg: prose poems Ironslated by Rolph Monheim. Editioi" by Mme. Kar 

dinslcy, with nfw footnotes and additions by Kondinsky, ?3pp., i I2.2S. 

d.m.i'. ft On My Way, by .icon (Mons) Arp. Esjoys ond Poems, 1912-1947 in fnock. jornion. Eng! 
Edited by Robert Motherwell. Tronslofed from the French end Gefmc- 
with 2 woodcuts especially done by the artist for this pvblicotior* ond 
Iribution fay Carolo Giediori-Welckei. Bibliography by B. Korpef, 148 pp., % crigmoi 
woodcuts, 48 ill., 1948. $4.50. 
ci of three originol woodcuts signed by the artist. $12,00, 

iJ.ii • Beyond Painting, with other *e/ts by A, Breton, NC<i 

D^5;'»i,iie5, T„ i fbon. Edited bv Robert Moihefwsll 

40 ill., 1948. $«.0O. 

'.lades: Am Aiuiiology, -.. Breton, O. But"' 

G. Hugnet, «. ' , -Dessoignes, H, Ri,. 

others. Edited by Robert (s^dtherwelL Tranjioted frow the Ere 
Md^l^eim ond others. (First publ. in English of most of the matfi 

The Rfse of Cubisrn, by Dotiiel-Henry l^ah^.v.;!c' "ri-nml^or- 
.( from the German by Henry ^ 

inort'vr ;v,-p;;r(;;i;on ri->e .Modern Arts in Review. A ' 

i>> Biirnord Karpol, l.tbrifnr,ri Thf; Museum of M, - 
FtlUVism by Georu i=ir$t tronslalion into E«7' 

From Baudelaire to Surrealism by Marce' 
'''roblems of Contemporary An 

■T, bemg a coreh-oll for texji relating to the immedloi 
p --■ : ?orm anfl sense, by Wolfgong Poolen. . 1945. Out-of-p 

the Gross Roots of Art, by Herbert Read. 92 pp , 19 m, ".;,. ;:,,; 

(he Way Beyond 'Art*; The Work of Herbert Bciyer, bv ^ r- 

pen. ■■(. Possibirtfiei?; 1. An occosionol Review, edited by ''>t>^ C^iio |ii^ 'horeau (orchi- 

vobcrt Motherwell (ort), and Hoi'oi<; !947-48. (lon- 

,..„...,,.. I i by Abel, Arp, Boilotos, Colli, Colv... , >. ./fer, Hulbeck, 

Miro, Motherwell, Niemeyer, Poe, .1. Pollock, H, S ' Smith, Virgil 

Thomson, Voresff, Ban Web|r. l!2 pp., 49 lllus., $2.'.r> (lypojftjpt:/ by r^ie editois; 

>'ainHngs, Sculptures, l^eflntions, by t;,.r„o--. vr.,v,.^,%n..f;-,,^ y>,,(^r^ Kv Mnv 

pp., 50 ill., 2 color plates, 1948. $3.00, 
iiiacfiveprc r.sibiiities: 2., (See No, 4 obo*e.! 


Covets Odd typo5<8phy (unless otherwise rio»ed)^ Paul Sortd 

Wifteiibenit, 5. 



Date Due 
Returned Due 



©ECi & »Inov2S 

MAR ^ 6 


ft 9 1985 

JUL 1 fOR5 

^"1^ i 4 m 

SEP2 8 


AUG iVl S &t 


SEP2JM""' iEP SiiiW 


NOV 2 7 1989 

SEP 1 e fe 


i ?)OV Q "7 ^^^ 


Af R 17 )9U 

SEP 2 7 m 





AUG 2 1 1986 

SEi> 1 9 ISW 

AUG "? l»8f 


nrT31 WK 

10V 27 m 

t 2B9y 



2 7 ifQ^ i 


DEC 4 ieS3 

nrc uim.^ 

t^f-- * 

JiPilj ^ :. 

DEC 8 


fj^Y 3 ia. 

Der Weg zum Kubismus. afa 

3 lEbs D3ED7 ^^b^ 


Pine arts 



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